Community: Meet an Undocumented Immigrant in the United States
Interviewer: Derrik Chen; June 13, 2020
Interviewee's name has been removed for privacy.
Protestors demanding overhauls of the immigration system & an end to the criminalization of migrants (Twitter).
What is life generally like as an undocumented immigrant?
Life as an undocumented immigrant has definitely been unique. For the most part, I feel immensely scared about my life, especially living in a rural-southern, conservative town. With my status, I can't apply for jobs to help my family or travel further south, in fear of being detained. I keep my status very private, of course, but I've talked about it to my closest teachers in the hopes that they can help find scholarship resources and financial aid for undocumented students. Growing up with an optimistic mindset, I've learned the importance of staying positive, but there are times when I am uncertain where my future will take me with my undocumented status weighing me down. Nevertheless, constant faith and prayers has continually pushed me to believe that things will eventually work out in the end.
"Growing up with an optimistic mindset, I've learned the importance of staying positive, but there are times when I am uncertain where my future will take me with my undocumented status weighing me down."
How has COVID-19 affected your life?
Other than the educational impacts of turning to online, fortunately, COVID hasn't had a great impact on my family. Although my brother was hit with COVID when he was attending college in Columbia University, we've been thankful that he's home. The only worry is affording the healthcare of the situation, which we hope doesn't get too bad. Currently, my brother and my family are doing well. My brother has recovered, though we're still worried of the long-term effects of COVID. We've done antibody testing to help our community.
How has COVID-19 affected undocumented immigrants' jobs during this time?
Many, many undocumented immigrants have lost a lot of jobs, especially those in my community that were waitresses or work in the small business field. Also, around the country, there are detention centers that hold immigrants where they are at high risk for COVID. Many of the undocumented immigrants in my area work in the chili-fields and onion sheds, which have been partially shut down. Most of the jobs are also under-the-table, meaning they don't require Social Security or tax income. Many are afraid of the financial burden to their family as well.
"Many of the undocumented immigrants in my area work in the chili-fields and onion sheds, which have been partially shut down."
Is there anything you’d like to add?
If I were to add something, I would like the immigration to be less costly and more efficient. There many undocumented immigrants that are great people and want to become a U.S. citizen ("doing it the right way"), but the process can take so long and it is very expensive. I definitely think [the media] has not [covered the immigrant community enough]. It’s even harder being an undocumented immigrant for sure. Even before the focus shifted to issues such as BLM, the media didn’t cover the COVID pandemic within the immigrant community enoug